The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind

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In this mind-expanding book, scientific pioneer Marvin Minsky continues his groundbreaking research, offering a fascinating new model for how our minds work. He argues persuasively that emotions, intuitions, and feelings are not distinct things, but different ways of thinking.

By examining these different forms of mind activity, Minsky says, we can explain why our thought sometimes takes the form of carefully reasoned analysis and at other times turns to emotion. He shows how our minds progress from simple, instinctive kinds of thought to more complex forms, such as consciousness or self-awareness. And he argues that because we tend to see our thinking as fragmented, we fail to appreciate what powerful thinkers we really are. Indeed, says Minsky, if thinking can be understood as the step-by-step process that it is, then we can build machines -- artificial intelligences -- that not only can assist with our thinking by thinking as we do but have the potential to be as conscious as we are.

Eloquently written, The Emotion Machine is an intriguing look into a future where more powerful artificial intelligences await.
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About the author

Marvin Minsky is Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research has led to many advances in artificial intelligence, psychology, physical optics, mathematics, and the theory of computation. He has made major contributions in the domains of computer graphics, knowledge and semantics, machine vision, and machine learning. He has also been involved with technologies for space exploration.

Professor Minsky is one of the pioneers of intelligence-based robotics. He designed and built some of the first mechanical hands with tactile sensors, visual scanners, and their software and interfaces. In 1951 he built the first neural-network learning machine. With John McCarthy he founded the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in 1959. He has written seminal papers in the fields of artificial intelligence, perception, and language. His book The Society of Mind contains hundreds of ideas about the mind, many of which he has further developed in this book.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Nov 13, 2007
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9781416579304
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The first systematic study of parallelism in computation by two pioneers in the field.

Reissue of the 1988 Expanded Edition with a new foreword by Léon Bottou

In 1969, ten years after the discovery of the perceptron—which showed that a machine could be taught to perform certain tasks using examples—Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert published Perceptrons, their analysis of the computational capabilities of perceptrons for specific tasks. As Léon Bottou writes in his foreword to this edition, “Their rigorous work and brilliant technique does not make the perceptron look very good.” Perhaps as a result, research turned away from the perceptron. Then the pendulum swung back, and machine learning became the fastest-growing field in computer science. Minsky and Papert's insistence on its theoretical foundations is newly relevant.

Perceptrons—the first systematic study of parallelism in computation—marked a historic turn in artificial intelligence, returning to the idea that intelligence might emerge from the activity of networks of neuron-like entities. Minsky and Papert provided mathematical analysis that showed the limitations of a class of computing machines that could be considered as models of the brain. Minsky and Papert added a new chapter in 1987 in which they discuss the state of parallel computers, and note a central theoretical challenge: reaching a deeper understanding of how “objects” or “agents” with individuality can emerge in a network. Progress in this area would link connectionism with what the authors have called “society theories of mind.”

The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. Other animals have stronger muscles or sharper claws, but we have cleverer brains. If machine brains one day come to surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become very powerful. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on us humans than on the gorillas themselves, so the fate of our species then would come to depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence. But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed AI or otherwise to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation? To get closer to an answer to this question, we must make our way through a fascinating landscape of topics and considerations. Read the book and learn about oracles, genies, singletons; about boxing methods, tripwires, and mind crime; about humanity's cosmic endowment and differential technological development; indirect normativity, instrumental convergence, whole brain emulation and technology couplings; Malthusian economics and dystopian evolution; artificial intelligence, and biological cognitive enhancement, and collective intelligence. This profoundly ambitious and original book picks its way carefully through a vast tract of forbiddingly difficult intellectual terrain. Yet the writing is so lucid that it somehow makes it all seem easy. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom's work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.
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